Can you pencil me in? -Sincerely, God
A couple of years ago my mother bought me a planner called the “Do it All Mommy Planner.” I have used a planner since as far back as I can remember. In fact, where most people tend to have social media memes to share how they can’t function without their favorite coffee or latte, I literally can’t function without my planner. And please don’t try to write in my planner because I will find the necessary superpowers from somewhere to zap you.
It’s my life, it’s where I balance our sometimes hectic schedule, create my grocery lists, write important notes, and input things I need to follow up on. A month ago, my 2-year-old toddler discovered my planner and thought it was a great idea to create a scribbled masterpiece of art through the whole month of August. Yes, I could have zapped him. But it was in that moment I realized that is exactly what our schedules and ministry meetings look like to God when he is left on the side lines vying for a place to be penciled into our everyday lives. Scribble.
God is Greater Than your To-Do List
Most of the time my life seems hurried and somewhat mundane. From seeing our son off to school, preparing class materials for our toddler, running an online boutique, scheduling meetings, coordinating family time, cheering at soccer games, bringing dinner to family get-togethers, trying to secure a viable renter for our home in Kentucky to finding time to spend with God alone. Many times, our calendars get filled, and our devotional time with the Lord gets sacrifice or minimized. E.M. Bounds says it best, “We are all in danger of substituting church work and a ceaseless round of showy activities for prayer.” One must realize that our to-do lists can’t be sufficiently accomplished without an ardent devotional life with the Lord.
Luke 10:38-42, gives us a great example of how valuable our devotion is to God. In this scripture, we find two sisters Martha and Mary who opened up their home to host Jesus. One was distracted by all of the things on her to-do list to create the best dinner party she could have for Jesus while the other was unconcerned and captivated with sitting in His presence and listening to Him talk. Martha, obviously frustrated because her sister Mary was not getting anything done or helping her with the preparations, asked the Lord to step in and do something. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40). The Lord tells her He is not going to interrupt Mary’s time with Him because in His eyes her sitting at His feet is greater than what is on the to-do list.
Devotion is a Personal Pursuit
I believe God desires to restore the hearts of His chosen leaders to be hearts of steadfast devotion. Devotion is not a corporate experience, it’s a personal pursuit. There’s so much to be gained when God is allowed on your calendar. What once was scribble becomes direction, strategy, strength, and grace for the task at hand. God gives wisdom and discernment during times of devotion that keeps our hearts grounded on what He has called us to do. Devotion leads our wayward and overwhelmed hearts right where they belong sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Whether it’s developing a study habit of reading His Word, setting a consistent time to pray and commune with God or fasting to usher your heart back to a place of devotion. Just Do It! Because God says it’s greater than all of the other things on your calendar.
"Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)
Larincia and Hervera Hambrick are the Lead Pastors of Real Life Church in urban St. Louis along with their two sons Josiah and Gabriel. Real Life Church will launch in 2018. Along with being a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God, Pastor Larincia is the successful business owner of I am Destined to Reign Boutique. Larincia founded her jewelry boutique in order to connect women with the latest fashion trends and provide resources to help them grow spiritually with the Lord. Larincia is also in the process of writing a book titled, ” I am Destined to Reign” which is expected to be released in 2018. This article was posted by SMD Church Planting and Development in September, 2017.
One of the reasons I love and trust the Bible is that very few of the “heroes” always do it right. In fact, most of the main characters are deeply flawed.
I love this. It speaks to the authenticity of the Scriptures. I mean, who in their right mind, if they were trying to create a religion would make all the characters as messed up as the characters in the Bible?!
Secondly, because the heroes in the Bible are a tangle of brilliance and bumbling, I feel like I can relate and learn from them. In fact, I think one of the greatest lessons in leadership comes from the Bible.
So, today I want to share a leadership lesson from one of the leaders in the Old Testament. I realize none of this will be new or ground-breaking but hopefully this will redirect us and keep us from slipping into unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior.
So here we go…Remember that crazy story from the book of Numbers where the people are complaining again? That’s pretty much the entire journey from Egypt to Canaan, but in this particular story, they are complaining about being thirsty.
And then, if you remember, God tells Moses and Aaron to speak to the rock and water will pour out. Instead of speaking, Moses strikes the rock and then God disciplines him by barring him from entering the Land of Promise. Ouch.
What’s the point of this story? And what can we, as leaders, learn from it?
Here’s the simplest way I can think of summarizing this story: As a leader, God cares more about your heart than your results.
Whether he spoke or hit the rock the results would have been the same… water. It’s what the people needed and what they demanded. But, God took issue with the “how” and it had everything to do with trust and obedience.
For me, the trouble in this area started in Bible College. My personal Bible reading morphed into my required Bible reading. This began a merger between my professional spiritual life and my personal spiritual life.
The results of my ministry, from an external perspective were right on track but at the same time, my heart was not fully engaged with God. This is a dangerous place to be. Thankfully, I was able to correct this behavior by reprioritizing my personal relationship with God.
A few questions I might encourage you to wrestle with as you consider where you’re at:
One secondary temptation here is to believe that all that matters is having a vibrant faith. I do think that our efforts do matter. This is why we talk about strategies, measurable goals and excellence.
These things really do matter. From my experience, we are at our best as ministry leaders when we strike a balance between heart and results. When our hearts are fully committed to God and our efforts are focused on leading with excellence, we are in our sweet spot.
Moses didn’t lose the opportunity of a life-time because of a bottom-line issue. He lost it because of a heart issue.
It is very unlikely that you and I will lose our ministries because of attendance dipping. However, we will be in serious danger of losing our ministries when our hearts drift from God.
The lesson here is heart over results.
This post was written by Aaron Buer on July 6, 2017 for www.breezechms.com.
I was standing at the door after church, talking with folks, when a woman who’d been visiting our church approached and blurted, “Can we be friends?” I knew immediately what she meant: she wanted to connect with other women and with the church, because she was in a time of transition and needed a lifeline of relational security. The surest thing, it seemed, was the smiling pastor’s wife who’d greeted her at the door each week.
I swallowed hard, trying to think of a response to a difficult and uncomfortable question from someone I didn’t know. In the past, I would have immediately answered, “Yes, of course!,” taken down her number, and then invited her to coffee, not so much because I was a bleeding heart but because I felt guilty if I didn’t do it. After all, I told myself, wasn’t that what a good pastor’s wife would do?
I know now that unless it’s prompted by the Holy Spirit, it’s not what a good pastor’s wife would do. Spending time with people to avoid feeling pressure, guilt, or the discomfort of knowing we’ve disappointed someone is not Spirit-led ministry, and it’s certainly not the gateway toward friendship, for either party.
In my last post, I discussed how important it is for us, as pastor’s wives, to have a hearty and healthy perspective on friendship. It’s important because it helps us navigate our many relationships, but it’s also important because we have the opportunity to model for other women how to do the same. We not only need a healthy perspective regarding friendship for ourselves; we have the opportunity to teach others a healthy perspective on friendship.
Talk about friendship and community
When women come to me for counsel, they usually want to talk about issues related to community or friendship. Some are feeling lonely or left out, some are in transition, some need help forming words as they consider approaching a friend who is in sin and some have been hurt by other women.
Pastor’s wives, we are often a type of security blanket for other women in church or group settings, especially if we’re open and friendly. I think this is mostly a good thing, because it offers us an opportunity to shepherd and speak into the lives of women around us. We can say hard things or challenge perspectives because we often have worked to build the relational capital.
In conversations with other women, as I have opportunity, I often speak about the “big picture” in our church, which I can uniquely see from my vantage point as the pastor’s wife. I tell the older women that the younger women desperately want to know them, even though the younger women may not know exactly what to ask or how to approach them. I tell the younger women, much to their surprise, that the older women can relate to their fears and insecurities. I challenge perspectives regarding age, marital status, race and educational choices—all the things that keep women apart because they assume they’ll have no commonalities. I challenge assumptions, trying to teach giving others the benefit of the doubt.
Being a type of security blanket for others, however, can be a bad thing if we think of ourselves as the answer to every problem. If someone is not connecting within the church or has been hurt, it’s easy to slip into “fix it” mode and feel responsible for that person’s well-being. We may began to feel we have to include everyone in everything we do or that we need to constantly be the “giver” and never the “receiver.”
Again, we have opportunities here. The opportunity comes through refusing to be the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present Christ, because we aren’t and only hurt ourselves and others when we try to be. In other words, much of our opportunity for teaching others comes through disappointing people, and that opportunity is for the person to find their hope and comfort first and foremost in the Lord.
In conversations with women, we can voice these truths in gentle and loving ways. I often have to help people see that hurt in relationships is inevitable, no church is perfect and each person can make choices and take responsibility for pursuing deep community. They need to know that, in fact, friendships and connection within the church takes persistent intentionality over time.
I’m not advocating a cold-hearted approach to women in our churches. Not at all. I am, however, advocating for pastor’s wives to not try to be everyone’s all-in-all. The way we avoid being the all-in-all is to personally connect with those the Holy Spirit is nudging us toward for discipleship and friendship and then, for all others, use our influence to connect other women with one another.
The possibilities for connection are ongoing and endless, and by intentionally connecting others, we move from being the overwhelmed hub of a wheel to being a part of the living, growing body of Christ.
With the woman at the door requesting my friendship, I tried to remember my own advice. I smiled and said, “I’d love to invite you to the small group that meets in our home.” I wrote down the details on the bulletin and handed it to her, and although later I felt a twinge of guilt at not running to rescue her, I realized that instead of accepting responsibility for fixing her situation, I’d put the responsibility for her community where it belonged: with her. I’d opened the door. Then I prayed she’d walk through it.
1. How would you answer the question, "Can we be friends?" if it was asked of you at the next Sunday church service?
2. What is your take on Christine's comment, "We have the opportunity to teach others a healthy perspective on friendship?" Have you ever thought about friendship and the pastor's wife in that way?
3. What is your perspective on friendship and the pastor's wife?
Christine is wife to Kyle Hoover, mom to three energetic boys, and the author of The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart and From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel. In 2008, their family planted a church in Charlottesville, VA. She enjoys encouraging ministry wives and helping all women apply the gift of God’s grace to their daily lives. Christine offers fresh doses of biblical truth and grace on her blog, GraceCoversMe.com.
More from this author
“Are you saying no because of your weight?”
Those words caught me off guard and stung. I’m always amazed at the freedom some feel to say what they do.
Rather than respond with a full-frontal attack, I used gentle words so I could hide the hurt. “No, I just don’t want ice cream right now. Thanks, though.”
In that moment—at a dinner with old friends that should have been filled with joy and celebration—I found myself in a very tangling situation. I put on a brave face and pushed through. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin the evening for everyone else. But honestly, I’m so tired of just pushing through. Even more, I’m frustrated that my self-worth is still so easily tangled.
Isn’t there a point in our lives when insecurity shouldn’t knot us up anymore?
The shaming voice inside tells me I should be able to overcome it. And so often I agree:
The struggle to see the truth of our worth isn’t new. Chances are you’re intimately aware of the places you don’t feel like you “measure up.” And dare I say it’s a battle we’ll most likely carry to the grave because part of the human condition is wondering if we’re good enough.
Those insecurities cause us to take a sobering look at our life to see if we’ve been a success. We want to know we made a difference—our lives, our words, our actions—during our time here. We need to know we matter.
So we wonder… Am I raising my kids the right way? Have I been the kind of wife my husband needed? Am I doing enough to create healthy community and love on others well? Am I a good friend? Have I volunteered enough hours? Am I nurturing my relationship with Jesus enough? Do I handle our finances like I should? Am I as encouraging and affirming with my words as she is? Do my opinions and ideas matter?
We want to know we’ve contributed to the world in significant ways. Our hope is to know we’re beautiful in our own way, and others see it too. And we need to know that no matter what, we are valuable.
So when a careless comment tightens the tangle of worthlessness, it hurts so deep.
In my naivety, I thought I’d eventually grow out of insecurities. I assumed being an adult meant the craving for worldly acceptance and approval would stop. But for many of us, we are still getting tangled by the same ole people and the same stupid situations.
But here is what I’ve learned. Victory doesn’t mean we’ll never struggle with insecurity again. Victory means that when we feel the knot begin to tighten, we are quicker to see it and faster to take our tangle to God.
And even more, God never measures our value by the way we look, what we’ve accomplished, the money we have made, the health of our body, or any other worldly measuring stick. God values us simply because we’re His.
“You are the ones who make yourselves look right in other people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For the things that are considered of great value by people are worth nothing in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15 GNT)
What a beautiful reminder that God’s scales are not the same as the world's. And this scripture offers a powerful warning not to allow the world’s definition of success and beauty be the judge of our value and worth.
So how can we learn to see ourselves through the eyes of God?
Because when we do—when we truly untangle—words won’t hold the same power over us anymore. And when someone questions why we’re skipping dessert (or we get triggered in some other way), we’ll remember that God sees the beauty and complexity of our heart… and delights in His creation!
This blog post was written by Carey Scott for Propel Women in June, 2017. She is an author, speaker, and life coach, honest about her walk with the Lord…stumbles, fumbles and all. She is the author of Untangled, a book where she bravely shares her story of abuse, the insecurities birthed from it, and offers practical advice on how to live in freedom. Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more at CareyScott.org. You can also connect with her on Facebook,Twitter or Pinterest.
When Your Husband Struggles
No matter how great of a minister, husband, leader or father he is, he’s not immune to adversity.
Church dilemmas erupt, leaving his leadership landscape shaken. Sin happens, either committed by him or against him. A friend that was life-giving awkwardly leaves the church. Exhaustion eventually affects his emotional stamina. The list continues.
Whether his struggle is private or public, as his wife you feel a version of his pain and walk in the aftershocks of his struggle.
How do we walk wisely with our husband in the landscape of his suffering?
Resist reacting with emotional solutions that bring temporary relief.
When he hurts, you hurt. Any path to relief, even if temporary, seems right in the moment. Job’s wife could only think of one thing to relieve her husband from his suffering – quit! “Curse God and die.” Let’s not rush to be too harsh on her. I’ve entertained saying, “quit” to my husband, too. Everything they had built together was gone! She had been the wife to the “greatest man of all the people of the east” (Job 1:3). They both lost children, financial security and reputation in the community. And now she’s watching her suffering husband and probably thinking, “ENOUGH!” Yet, temporary relief doesn’t change reality.
Cling to the reality that God is sovereign in our suffering.
Pain in the present distorts our ability to comprehend anything beyond our present circumstances. Job and his wife didn’t have a clue that a conversation had occurred between God and Satan. While their circumstances were incredibly painful, there was another reality they weren’t privy to. And no amount of logic attempting to answer the question, “Why is this happening?” would have unveiled the real reason. God’s sovereignty shadows our suffering.
Recognize his vulnerability and the value of your strength.
In suffering our husband is more vulnerable than he may admit. He may flirt with quitting or react by isolating. Chuck Swindoll confessed, “Men are weakened when times of affliction hit…In our weakened condition we lose our objectivity, sometimes our stability. We become vulnerable and most men don’t know how to handle themselves in a vulnerable state of mind. We become – hard as it is to admit this – afraid. So in light of all this, hear me – we need your clear perspective, wisdom, and spiritual strength. We need your words of confidence and encouragement. We even find it hard to say, ‘I need you right now.’”
Be present, but don’t always talk.
A loving presence that is courageously resolute and unconditionally available speaks loudly. Sometimes, there are just no words that need to be said. Give him a safe place and space to process. At times he needs be alone. Other times, he needs you near without words. If he speaks, listen. A safe space is comfort to a hurting soul. Your presence in pain creates a deep, unspoken intimacy.
In the shadow of our leader-husband, we often default to his initiation in spiritual intimacy. However, we are in partnership on this journey. When my husband was in his own pit of despair I asked him, “What do you need from me?” His first answer was, “I need you to initiate praying because I just have no words.” Don’t ask if he wants to pray, just start praying out loud with him. Initiate ushering both of your hearts before the throne of God.
Discipline yourself to build-up strength reserve, now.
Adversity will come. You can’t fake strength. Those who possess it have built it from a disciplined conditioning of the heart. Build up strength and you will walk wisely beside him in his pain.
This post was written by Lori McDaniel for Flourish on by April 15, 2016
When Tragedy Strikes Your Church
My church body is currently in the midst of one of the greatest tragedies I’ve ever seen. Our community is suffering, mourning and asking difficult questions.
It’s been one of the most exhausting weeks we’ve ever experienced in ministry. In many ways, we have felt unqualified for the task before us. Yet, my husband faithfully visited grieving family members, counseled church members in office and by phone, led our church staff through their sorrow and preached a funeral—all in a span of five days.
As a pastor’s wife, when tragedy strikes your church body, it strikes your husband’s heart and mind. In the overflow, it strikes your home. When so many have experienced a personal loss, your sufferings might be overlooked during a time of crisis. Rightly so. However, it does not diminish the difficulty of the days for you and your husband.
As we weather this current storm, we are clinging to truth in order to minister well and take care of our own bodies and souls. I pray these five actions we're taking provides you encouragement in whatever you also may be facing.
1. Recognize the spiritual battle.
Begin with Ephesians 6. Every tragedy involves people. At times, it’s easy to see a person as an enemy that caused your sorrow. It's better to avoid this temptation. The truth found in Ephesians 6 allows us to remove antagonists and protagonists from the narrative and rightly focus our eyes on and prayers against the devil’s schemes.
"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand" (Ephesians 6:11-13).
2. Soak in the gospel.
My husband and I have read and re-read Romans 8 together. Its reminders of what Christ has done for us, that the Spirit is alive in us and of how the Spirit and Christ intercede for us offer such sustaining grace.
No matter what we may face, “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).
And this too is what we have to offer others in their grief. As C.S. Lewis wrote in the introduction of The Problem with Pain, “when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.”
3. Create temporary boundaries.
When your church body is in the midst of crisis, many are affected. Everyone and everything feels urgent. However, there are logistical and physical limits to you and your husband’s ability to respond to all requests for counsel while still maintaining your own rest and emotional energy.
Likely you and your husband will need to set boundaries with people for a period of time in order to minister to those truly affected. Tragedies will reveal those who are ill-equipped to handle trials. You will need wisdom to discern who they are and set boundaries.
My husband and I have done everything we can to rest well these days including cancelling some morning appointments and leaving housework undone. Some evenings, my husband turns off his phone for a few hours to be with our children. We do this because we know we will need physical strength to sustain our emotional strength.
Even though I spend most of my days at home, I ask for help on weeks like this. I call the sitter. I order take-out. I simplify our life as much as possible so that when my husband is home I can give him my emotional energy.
"But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
5. Call in the troops.
This might not be able to happen right away, but as soon as possible, I seek to create life-giving scenarios for me and my husband. I invite over friends who are easy and understanding. I sit at a friend’s kitchen table and let the kids play. I ask our parents to come to town. Whatever others offer, take advantage of it. We are made for community and are strengthened by community.
In the midst of such sadness, God provided people who encourage me and my husband. We have seen how He sustains us through the prayers of those we didn’t know were praying. We have seen our church body serve and love and encourage each other in ways that blessed us as well. We can see God working in so many lives through this experience, redeeming what was meant for evil. We are left knowing He “will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Genesis 50:20; Philippians 1:6).
This blog was posted on August 10, 2017 by Jill Waggoner for Flourish.
Hope, Help, Healing (Part 2)
By Christian Fauth
We continue with this powerful, yet vulnerable entry from licensed minister, Christian Fauth. Last week she shared about her lifelong struggle with depression and the process to finding help.
To read last week's entry, click here.
Let's pick up where she left off...
I guess I’m writing this for two reasons. The first is for someone to know there is help. No matter what the problem or the pain, there are professionals that are waiting to give treatment to those who feel they are at their end. There are people, whether it is a church or other organization that will support those who need to know someone cares. I can’t stress enough how important it is to take that step and acknowledge a need for help.
The second reason I wanted to write this is because I want people to know there is hope. My story does not end with seeing a counselor every other week and taking medication daily. Early in 2014, a few months after my stay, I met with a friend and as we watched our children play at McDonalds I told her my story. She, in turn, told me how she too had struggled with depression, but God had healed her. Now, I knew God heals. God heals cancer. God makes the deaf hear. I had witnessed healings of others in my life. But did God heal mental illness?
Does God heal mental illness?
Over the next few months, I wrestled with this. I prayed. During the summer, I started getting sick when I took my medicine. I thought maybe the strength was just too high. But I talked to Carl and told him, “I think God is healing me.” In October, I had another doctor appointment. I shared with my doctor and she said she didn’t see a need for me to take the medication any longer! It has been a year and I still haven’t taken anti-depressants. This is the longest I have ever gone unmedicated since 2003.
Our family is happy. Our marriage is healthy. I am whole. Christ has set me free. I am healed.
I hesitated to write this. I don’t want people to think I am seeking fame or attention. After all, it took me two years to write this down for myself. However, I want to make God famous. I want to give Him the praise He is due. Revelation 12:11 says “and they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”
Word of their testimony.
Part of this healing is sharing what God has done. I’ve kept it to myself for too long, unsure why God chose to heal me while others fight everyday. I still don’t know why, but I can’t just keep it to myself if there is someone who needs to hear of a hope and light in the darkness of this world. God can take you at your lowest point and He will carry you through. Today, I share that no matter where you are, no matter what you are going through, there is help, hope and healing.
Let me leave you with a few practical directives if you find yourself in a similar situation. What should you do if you find yourself feeling hopeless?
Christian Fauth and her husband, Carl, celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in June. They currently serve as worship pastors at Life 360 in Springfield, Missouri, where she also serves as the creative arts pastor. They have three "handsome, hilarious, and wonderful" boys. "I have shaped my ministry philosophy around growing up with mental illness in a pastor’s home and seeing the need for more vulnerability and honesty about what God can do, not in spite of but, through our struggles." When Christian finds free time, she likes to read design magazines and spend lots of time with family and friends. Her greatest passion? "My greatest passion is to see people connect with God and to know who they are in Christ."
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